I have a lot of art books on my bookshelves, for reference, for inspiration, and for solutions on how to work through a knotty place while I'm creating. But probably my all time favorite book is this one:
I have taken not all, but most of the workshops by these two artists, Chris Cozen and Julie Prichard. And because I have taken their workshops and know the quality of their teaching and their art, I signed up right away in September 2012 when Amazon announced it was taking orders for their new book. It came in February 2013 and it has resided on the corner of my painting table since then. Oh, I've tried to put it on the shelf with the others, but I kept taking it down, so I figured I'd just make it easy on myself and leave it. They go through their marvelous acrylic creations step by step, and give a lot of background on why as an artist using these steps are important. (Chris & Julie have distinctive styles from each other, which encourages you to try something a new way.) They take you from the kinds of substrate you paint on, to the finishing touches you can use to make it really something special. And it's the kind of book you will probably have paint flecks and spatters on different pages, just like your favorite cookbook!
It's on sale at Amazon! Just in time for your gift giving if you have seasoned artists, or budding artists on your gift list. Get it at this link! And enjoy!